MARCO ISLAND — They came, they saw, they sipped.
Hundreds of guests got to try some savory soups, and restaurants got to expose new customers to their wares, at the second annual “Souper Bowl” event at Mackle Park. Held on the Saturday before the Super Bowl, the fundraiser for the Marco Island Area Chamber of Commerce Leadership Marco scholarship fund provided more fun and excitement than the one-sided snoozefest the football game turned out to be.
Following the format of the enormous “Empty Bowls” event held the week before in Naples by the Harry Chapin Food Bank, the Souper Bowl focused on Marco Island eateries and eaters. The first stop, after getting through the lengthy line, was to select a bowl from the 1,000 handpainted by local volunteers and students. Participants then circulated from booth to booth under the “air-nasium” at Mackle Park to sample soups, compare notes, and go back for additional trials or to repeat a favorite selection.
For Dave Rice, that was easy.
“I’m in line for French onion soup (from CaterMasters) and I’m back for thirds,” he proclaimed. Lorraine Schooner couldn’t get over the cream of wild mushroom soup offered by Bistro Soleil, and personally ladled out by chef Denis Meurgue, whose wife Lisa was one of the events organizers.
“That is the best mushroom soup I ever tasted,” said Schooner. Lines also formed at the table for Mango’s Dockside Bistro, where the Italian wedding soup was a real production involving more than just ladling out a bowlful. Kristi Ash and chef Eric Delano added pieces of toast, parmesan cheese, parsley, tomato, a syringe of roasted garlic-infused cream, and a skewer, complete with a little football on the end, of meatballs to the broth.
Carolyn Burger sipped at the Portuguese kale soup from Joe’s Hideout. She and fellow artists including Betty Newman and Karen Swanker painted bowls, which were auctioned off as works of art separately from the ‘run of the bowl’ selections, to bring in additional funds. Sara Jane Foltz, Judy Hawthorn, Lee Horton, Tara O’Neill, and members of the Clay Guild also created bowls for the silent auction.
The Red Rooster did a beef minestone, and Stonewalls served their loaded potato soup. Quinn’s on the Beach brought Bermuda seafood chowder, which like Manhattan clam chowder has a tomato base. CJ’s on the Bay served their stuffed pepper soup, which had enough zing to make former city manager Jim Riviere take notice. To cool any overheated palates, and sop up the last morsel of soup, Costco Wholesale provided bread, handed out by the AMI Big Cypress Kids, who also cooked and ladled out their own Jamaican beef soup.
When the last vat of soup was emptied, the event raised approximately $11,000, said Jada Shigley, Leadership Marco education chairperson. Moving right along, the group holds their next event, Wet Paint Live, on Feb. 12.